OPPOSITION party members in the Eastern Cape Legislature yesterday staged a walk-out of the agriculture standing committee meeting, forcing it to be postponed to a yet-to-be announced date.

It was the fifth committee meeting in two days to be to called off. The other four were health; sport, art, culture and recreation; the office of the premier, and transport.

They were called off after members were not satisfied with the quality of responses provided by departments.

Democratic Alliance MPL Veliswa Mvenya told the Daily Dispatch they had decided to walk out after waiting more than half an hour for the meeting to start.

“We are being undermined by the ruling party. This is the case each and every time a committee meeting sits,” Mvenya said.

She was followed by COPE MPL Angela Woodhall, African Independent Congress MPL Mandlenkosi Galo and UDM MPL Jackson Bici.

“The programme in the legislature is sometimes changed at short notice, inconveniencing us in the process,” Bici said.

Woodhall said she felt undermined and would report the matter to the chair of chairs, MPL Alfred Mtsi.

The meeting eventually started 45 minutes late, with only committee chairman Phila Nkayi and three ANC MPLs – Nomxolisi Mtitshana, Mninawa Nyusile and Imamile Pikinini – present.

“I pleaded with the members of the opposition not to leave, but my pleas fell on deaf ears,” Nkayi explained to the meeting.

“The opposition said they would consult with their whips, but would not be coming back,” Nkayi said before proposing called off.

Nyusile, however, attacked opposition for walking out.

“This conduct needs to be discussed at presiding officer level,” Nyusile said.

“If the committee continues, what legal standing do decisions taken here have? What is the legal standing as we speak?”

The committee was to discuss, among other issues, reports on two tea estates in the Transkei – Majola and Magwa.

The committee was also going to discuss the funding and rescue of the four biggest irrigation schemes in the province – Ncora, Keiskamma, Qamata and Bilatyi.

Issues such as under-expenditure that resulted in a number of projects including Grahamstown Poultry shutting down was also on the table for discussion. —